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Training programs respond to industry needs

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WMC by Richard Lipman
Richard Lipman is president of the Wood Manufacturing Council. For more info email rlipman@wmc-cfb.ca

From our initial Situational Analysis (environmental scan) of the Advanced Wood Processing Sector in 2002 through to our newly released Sector Study in 2016, labour market information has 
been at the heart of all of the Wood Manufacturing Council’s initiatives.
It has been employed in all our project and programs – which aim to respond to what people in our business have, in surveys, focus groups, interviews etc. said they face and what could be created to help them address their HR challenges and opportunities.
LMI is the official research that supports our efforts to provide a credible business case when work towards creating training programs, HR tools and related supports for sector firms and educators. After almost 15 years of doing this work, it is interesting and satisfying to look back at some of the training programs we have developed and how we have responded to what industry has told us could assist them. The courses continue to be very relevant to today’s needs and will support your skills development efforts.        
The Wood Employee Readiness Curriculum (WERC) is our pre-employment training program, that was developed in response to a shortage of workers and a stated need from employers for entry level workers, particularly if those workers have skills that are superior to people applying for work just “off the street.” The research strongly suggested that if the sector broadened its reach and looked to untapped, non-traditional sources of labour, we could expand the pool of prospective workers and fill some of the labour shortages. We initially targeted equity groups (new Canadians, persons with disabilities, aboriginal groups etc.) in order to develop a more diverse workforce. The program provides a path to exciting career opportunities for Canadians and develops entry-level workers with good basic skills for employers. WERC is now offered to all audiences - not just equity groups. We have over time undertaken programs for disadvantaged youth, new Canadians, persons with disabilities, women in non-traditional trades and aboriginal populations, as well as general programs for anyone interested in pursuing opportunities in 
the sector in various regions across the country.
This pre-employment training curriculum supports the development of entry level workers. WERC features an intake assessment, to assist in determining the suitability of program applicants and to identify the skills and experience they already possess. Eligible, selected participants normally receive four weeks of essential and life skills training and a multi-week Introduction to Wood Manufacturing, the shop component that is held wherever possible in a college setting. Participants receive relevant safety training, career support and a multi-week work placement with employers, who are encouraged to hire qualified candidates full-time at the conclusion of the work placement whenever possible.
The On-Line Management Skills Training Program was developed in response to a perceived sector-wide need to enhance management skills and the need to increase the sector’s management capacity. Our initial Labour Market Information noted “weakness in industry’s management skills.” Because most of the industry is comprised of small to micro sized businesses, many employers are often responsible for managing their staff without receiving formal managerial training that could potentially help their workplace to be more successful. The program’s target audience includes entrepreneurs in our industry that have established and grown their businesses based on their technical knowledge and who now need to learn about and implement various management systems in order to be able to delegate responsibilities and focus on business growth.  It also targets employees in management track or supervisory track roles, employees who need to better understand specific functions within their company in order to better do their own jobs more efficiently (i.e. sales people who need to understand how production decisions are made and vice versa) and individuals from non-wood products backgrounds who are joining the sector.
The course, offered through UBC’s Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, is online to make it more accessible for those currently working in the industry. The curriculum is made up of nine short, affordable training modules. Generally, each course can take between 35-45 hours of study over a six-week or eight-week period, depending on the module. The material is written specifically for the wood products industry and includes numerous case studies and industry examples. Participants can either take just one or two individual courses to fill a particular interest or gap in their knowledge, or they can choose to take multiple modules. Whenever possible, each module is offered at least twice a year, and learners move through each course together, interacting and sharing information and experiences.
Going Global is our international trade training course that responded in part to some of the findings in our early labour market research. The summary of the analysis section reported on the “Limitation of Marketing Knowledge.”  It stated that “as a result of management limitations, marketing, R&D and business innovation have not been major priorities for the Canadian sector. Many firms appear to be production-driven, rather than market-driven. There is also a reliance on exports to the U.S. rather than on diversified markets”.
The development of the Going Global online training modules was to help businesses in the sector expand their markets. To achieve this, WMC provides online training on how to develop international trade skills and deliver to international markets. This is not a program to help companies find market leads or meet prospective customers. Going Global is a comprehensive online course covering the key pillars of successful international trade that doesn’t require taking staff offline or paying for travel. It delivers high-impact content from top experts, and puts extensive backup materials at the fingertips of participants. The program consists of four modules taken online that cover topics such as Supply Chain Management, Research and Marketing, International Trade Finance and Culture and Trade. These modules are meant to educate owners and managers on how to successfully expand their markets to include international clients.  This is an E-Learning program – participants simply log-on to the Going Global site, register for the program and complete each of the four modules at their own pace.  Subject matter experts can be engaged when participants need them – they can help respond to questions about pressing export issues.    
We invite you to contact us to learn more… take advantage of these products, developed by experts from within our industry, with the support of relevant outside expertise, to respond to what you have said will address the workforce challenges in the wood manufacturing sector. 

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